JUPITER, Fla. -- Already, the Cardinals have put an end to all speculation and finalized the 25-man roster they'll feature to open the 2017 season. General manager John Mozeliak has been apt to point out, however, that the team's optimal roster likely isn't the first edition, but rather the product
JUPITER, Fla. -- Already, the Cardinals have put an end to all speculation and finalized the 25-man roster they'll feature to open the 2017 season. General manager John Mozeliak has been apt to point out, however, that the team's optimal roster likely isn't the first edition, but rather the product of midseason additions and subtractions.
So, as Opening Day approaches, let's have some fun and guess what the roster might look like by, say Aug. 1.
That would be right after the non-waiver Trade Deadline, a season demarcation of sorts that separates the contenders from those already looking ahead to 2018. While it's impossible to project how the happenings of the next four months will position the Cardinals at that juncture, we can take some educated guesses.
It's unlikely the Cardinals will enter the summer as sellers, a midseason position they've never been in under Mozeliak. During his tenure, the club has never been farther back at the Trade Deadline than it was last year, when it trailed the Cubs by eight games in the National League Central.
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Nevertheless, the Cardinals were among the teams fortifying, not breaking down, their Major League roster at that time. That's because the availability of two Wild Card spots gave the Cards another open path to the postseason.
Coming off an 86-win season, it's likely the Cardinals will still be in the race when this season hits its two-thirds mark. So what might they pursue?
Recent history tells us that pitching will be the priority. Of the seven deals the Cardinals have made within 10 days of the Trade Deadline since Mike Matheny became manager, six have returned pitching. The lone exception came in the team's 2015 swap with Cleveland that landed Brandon Moss.
Though the Cardinals' relief corps appears strong coming out of Spring Training, it's an area that often becomes lacking as the season deepens. The Cards could need to add another starter, as well. Alex Reyes is out for the season, and the club's crop of sixth starter candidates -- Tyler Lyons, Marco Gonzales and Luke Weaver -- all leave camp amid some uncertainty.
As far as position player needs, it seems unlikely the Cardinals will discover holes in the outfield. Not only do they have their three starters set, but there are a plethora of able bodies behind them -- including Jose Adolis Garcia, Jose Martinez, Tommy Pham and Harrison Bader.
The more likely need would be in the infield, where an injury or setback to any of the team's projected starters could expose the roster depth. Yes, the team will have Jedd Gyorko and Greg Garcia ready to fill in, but those options may not be sufficient in the case of a long-term absence.
By addressing their offseason goals via the free-agent market, the Cardinals left themselves with a healthy farm system from which to deal if they must this summer. Prospects like Bader and Weaver could be attractive pieces to other teams. From their Major League roster, the club could consider trading players like Matt Adams or Pham, if neither finds a solid fit with the Cardinals this season.
And if the team were to fall out of contention, pending free agents like Lance Lynn, Jhonny Peralta and/or Jonathan Broxton could possibly be on the move.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.